The first Pakistan v England ODI is tomorrow. I don’t think England ought to be particularly optimistic, their only warmup has come from crushing the Lions and Pakistan are a rather better side. The Lions match did seem to suggest that a lot of the youngsters are not yet ready to be called up the the senior side, however, and with Buttler injured I think I’d be hesitant to call any of the Lions players up for the first ODI. (Though I wouldn’t mind seeing them for subsequent matches if the seniors continue to underperform.) Ideally, I would also extend this to Kieswetter, who played for the Lions before coming to the UAE. We’ve seen that runs for the Lions are no guarantee of success, and I’d like to see Davies (better ODI average and S/R than Kieswetter) given another chance. Unfortunately he isn’t in the squad.
There is also the Bopara question. I don’t harbour the same antipathy toward him in the shorter formats as I do in Test matches (he can’t do nearly as much damage in only 100 overs) but I am still reluctant to see him play. He also fared the worst of any of the senior players in the warmup, scoring only 36 (off 45). With none of the Lions players standing up and demanding selection I’d keep him in, but only until Buttler is fit. There is also an interesting question around the bowlers; they did exceptionally well to bowl the Lions out for 97 and should probably stay unchanged, but they did so without Stuart Broad, who has been England’s star performer. Before the match I would have replaced Dernbach with Broad, but the former’s 3-21 off eight overs probably demands selection. The odd man out is probably going to be the fit again Tim Bresnan who took only one wicket and went at 4.6 in the warmup. If any of the other bowlers struggle in the opening matches, however, I would not hesitate to bring Bresnan back in. My XI for the first ODI would thus be: